Interview with Apurva Tandon (Part 1 of 3): The Rise and Impact of Academic Fraud
<p>As new technological developments allow academic fraud to thrive, the age-old issue persists. Not only can academic fraud taint the reputation of a university or an institution, but it also has a negative impact on multiple stakeholders, either directly or indirectly. </p> <p>As a result, the need to verify credentials and identities is crucial. We interview Apurva Tandon, Global Director of Operations at the DataFlow Group, as he discusses the negative impact of academic fraud on issuing authorities and universities, employers and the healthcare industry. </p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" width="1024" height="568" src="" alt="" class="wp-image-11842" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /><figcaption> Apurva Tandon, Global Director of Operations, DataFlow Group</figcaption></figure> <h2>Interview Participants</h2> <h3>Apurva Tandon</h3> <p>Global Director of Operations</p> <h3>Susan Kilty (SK)</h3> <p>Interviewer</p> <h2>SK: Academic fraud scandals are a daily occurrence. Why is it so prevalent and what sort of damage does it cause?</h2> <h5><strong>Apurva Tandon</strong></h5> <p>&#8221;In the last almost eight years that I&#8217;ve been dealing with the issuing authorities as part of the DataFlow Group, one of the things that stands out, very prominently, to why these <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">academic fraud scandals</a> keep happening is the extreme competitiveness of the employment landscape. </p> <p>On LinkedIn, when job seekers see a job opportunity, they will see that 500+ people have already applied for that one vacancy. It&#8217;s so competitive that it gets into peoples’ heads that, logically, “If I have to stand out among the crowd, I have to be different, look different and my credentials need to stand out.” That is where the lure of doing something wrong or doing something fraudulent comes into a person&#8217;s same mind. </p> <p>The worst part is that people who are aiding these fraudulent activities are aplenty. They are in Asian countries and the Middle East and all across the world. It&#8217;s so easy to find somebody who can give you a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">fake master&#8217;s degree</a> or a degree from your institution where you may have been awarded 40% marks, but this person can get your results changed to 70% and give you a degree that will look absolutely genuine with all the necessary stamps, look and feel. The lure becomes very lucrative for somebody to spend that extra, maybe $200/$300 or even less in most cases. That is where <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">education fraud starts happening</a> and it&#8217;s only after the employer has selected them and when they go through the verification process with DataFlow, it comes out that this is a fake document. </p> <p>Many <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">fraudulent applicants</a> manage to push their way through into companies that do not follow proper background verification processes. Lots of these fraudsters are already working in big companies without having the requisite qualifications because their background verifications have not been done properly.&#8221; </p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" width="1024" height="535" src="" alt="Unqualified Professionals" class="wp-image-11883" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></figure> <h3>Unqualified Professionals</h3> <p>&#8221;We deal largely with healthcare professionals, so the biggest damage that <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">academic fraud</a> causes is to the patients. It is inhumane for a patient to be treated by somebody who does not have the qualifications to treat them. A healthcare provider who does not have the requisite qualifications while being asked to treat patients is the worst thing.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <h3>Hospitals&#8217; Reputation</h3> <p>&#8221;The other damage is to the hospital&#8217;s reputation. When something goes wrong, like a person has not been treated or a patient dies because of the wrong treatment or wrong line of medication, then it&#8217;s a hospital&#8217;s reputation that suffers and it takes a long time to win back that reputation.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <h3>Issuing Authorities&#8217; Reputation</h3> <p>&#8221;The other damage is to the reputation of the issuing authority. When we speak to issuing authorities, we tell them to ensure that the certificates they issue cannot be duplicated or used fraudulently. Do whatever it takes, for example, invest money in creating watermarks. A lot of universities have different ways of making their certificates foolproof. With <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">DigiFlow</a>’s online processes, there is a direct one-on-one connection between the IA and the verification process<strong> </strong>without any human connection, eliminating the chance of fraud or error.&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, it only takes one person to get caught with a fraudulent document connected to ABC University in the Philippines. It doesn&#8217;t matter whether ABC University was party to the fraud or not; employers will mark that IA with a red flag. The reputation built up over decades or centuries is suddenly irreversibly damaged by one fraudulent certificate surfacing. People‘s perspectives change and they start saying, “Maybe there are university officials involved.” Even if the university is not involved, allegations start floating around, causing huge damage. </p> <p>Overall, one fraud certificate uncovered has ramifications for two different organizations and <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">damages the reputation</a> of multiple stakeholders.&#8221;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" width="1024" height="491" src="" alt="" class="wp-image-11886" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /><figcaption>There&#8217;s been an increased uptake in online learning and education since 2020. </figcaption></figure> <h2>SK: Is there an evident demand for these verification services, particularly after an increased uptake in online learning and education since 2020?</h2> <h5><strong>Apurva Tandon</strong></h5> <p>&#8221;This is something that I feel is too early to predict in the sense that there hasn&#8217;t been a paradigm shift in terms of how IAs want to do their verifications. IAs are taking it more like a short time stop-gap measure and people are not changing their policies or processes because of the pandemic. But online learning and education have become very popular or will be something that IAs will offer in the future. </p> <p>Institutions are now actually getting into that space where they would like to negate all kinds of manual work because education is happening online, teachers are online, students are online, so why should there be a process for which they need staff to sit and do things manually?</p> <p>The necessity for issuing authorities to make education available online is sinking in. They want their entire systems online where, at a click of a button, you&#8217;re able to get any information that you desire. A lot of these IAs have started getting their data digitized, and they have files that are hundreds of years old. Some IAs have to dig deep to find files to be verified. That is why verification sometimes takes us almost two, three months to get because there&#8217;s an entirely manual process in trying to locate the information. </p> <p>Most IAs have become very conscious of the fact that they need to get all their data digitized. IAs can sign up on tools like DigiFlow and The verification time, which otherwise could take months, is going to go down.&#8221;</p> <h3>This is part one of our three-part interview series with Apurva Tandon. Read the other two interviews here:</h3> <p><strong>Part 2:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Why Issuing Authorities Should Create Opportunities for Alumni</a></p> <p><strong>Part 3:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">The Future and Benefits of Verification for Issuing Authorities</a></p> <p>With the prevalence of fraud within the admissions process,;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">protects your university’s integrity</a>&nbsp;and reputation with our pre-admission verifications. To verify students’ academic backgrounds and mitigate risk during your admissions process, register your interest with us&nbsp;<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>